Mel Gibson’s powerful, Oscar-nominated return to the director’s chair tells the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun, during one of the bloodiest battles of World War Two. Featuring some of the most viscerally exhilarating combat scenes ever filmed, while also radiating the irrepressible optimism of its central character, Hacksaw Ridge is a sensational return to top-tier filmmaking from its provocative director.
British star Andrew Garfield is perfectly cast as the Seventh Day Adventist who pleads to serve in the American military despite refusing to carry a gun, capturing the character’s blend of boyish enthusiasm with unyielding determination to endure pain and hardship. And the film itself shares the same dualism, one familiar from Gibson’s previous films, where a focus on bloodshed and suffering is leavened with a transcendental faith in humanity. Symbolising Mel Gibson’s plea for redemption after a string of on-and-offscreen controversies, Hacksaw Ridge was rewarded with a slew of awards nominations that signalled the film industry’s re-acceptance of its wayward star. And the sheer technical prowess of its battle scenes establishes Gibson as a maestro of powerful and redemptive screen violence; arguably Hollywood’s heir to the great Sam Peckinpah.